Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Monkees, Season 1, Episode 8: "Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth"

This episode, "Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth," was written by Dave Evans, and directed by Robert Rafelson. Both of the songs used in the episode, "All The King's Horses" and "Papa Gene's Blues," were written by Michael Nesmith. As noted before, the latter song appeared on the Monkees' self-titled album, while "All The King's Horses" wouldn't appear on any of the original Monkees' albums; instead, a version was released on Rhino's "Missing Links 2," although it's a different mix than what was on the TV show. The original version is available for download as a bootleg (not that I'm saying you should do that, of course). The guest cast was Henry Corden as Mr. Babbitt (the landlord), Jesslyn Fax as Mrs. Purdy, Jim Boles as Farmer Fisher, Chuck Bail as Jenkins, Kerry MacLaine as Jonathan, and Jerry Colonna as Dr. Mann.

08-01The episode opens at the beach, where Davy is performing flips in the sand. A little boy, Jonathan, approaches Davy (breaking his concentration) and asks if Davy lives around here. Davy points to the beach house and says he does. The boy asks Davy if he'd watch his horse for him, and when Davy agrees, he runs off! Back at the beach house, Peter calls, "Soup's On!" and Mike and Micky come to the table to try his soup, "Cream of Root Beer." Mike takes a sip and says, "Peter, you've reached a new low." Micky, on the other hand, starts acting up after taking a taste (Peter: "Here we go again!"), and starts acting like he's changing into a werewolf. Mike, playing along with the gag, offers his hand (even adding salt to it). After a bit of this, including howling, there's a knock at the door: It's Mr. Babbitt, the landlord, and he's not happy! He wants to know where the dog is that he heard, and doesn't believe Micky when he says he was just pretending to be a werewolf (it doesn't help that Micky acts like this is something that everyone does). Babbitt leaves, and tells them, "Don't let me catch you keeping a real werewolf in here!" Of course, the second after Babbitt's out the door, Davy says, "Hey fellas, guess what just happened to me?" as he walks in from the back entrance, horse in tow. It should be noted that we can see Micky's drum set, and there's no version of the logo on the drum at all -- because this was the first episode filmed (after the pilot, which we haven't gotten to yet)!

After the opening credits, Davy explains how he got the horse (which is standing in the living room). Mike insists Davy needs to take the horse back, but of course there's no place for Davy to take it back to! Mike, naturally, is concerned that they'll get in trouble with the landlord, and Davy assumes it's because Babbitt would think they stole the horse. When Mike says the landlord thought they were keeping a dog in there, Davy gets confused, because this is a horse, and Mike tries to explain further, which confuses Davy more, asking how a dog could sound like a horse. Finally, Micky explains it was his werewolf impersonation (which Davy insists doesn't sound like a dog at all), which he goes and demonstrates -- and of course, this brings Babbitt immediately to their door! Davy and Micky try to push the horse away, but it won't move. Mike tells Davy and Peter to go hide in the other room, he has a plan! Mike then lets Babbitt in, and Babbitt starts looking for the dog... and doesn't notice the horse until he's getting ready to leave! Mike tells him that it's not really a horse, it's Peter and Davy in a horse costume that they're going to wear at a costume party! Amazingly, Babbitt falls for this and leaves!

08-03Mike insists that they have to get the horse out before Babbitt gets back and starts thinking, and they start to get it turned around, and call Peter to help, and as Davy stands there, they don't have any luck. Mike tells Davy to get their horse costume, while Peter thinks maybe they can coax it with some food (Mike: "Would you like a hamburger?"), and brings back some salami (why they weren't eating that instead of Peter's soup?), but Mike suggests Peter's soup, instead. The horse sniffs it, and starts drinking it (Peter's happy someone likes good cooking, while Micky says, "Wait until you see a horse change into a werewolf!").  As Davy walks back out to the living room, the horse falls over on its side! It wasn't the soup, it's just that the horse is tired, Davy decides.

08-04Mike goes to the phone and calls Dr. Mann, a veterinarian. Mike introduces himself as one of the Monkees, and that they have a sick horse, but this just starts to confuse Dr. Mann, who wasn't aware monkeys could talk! He promises to head right over, and hangs up. Shortly, Mike goes to Dr. Mann's office, and says he's the guy who called about the horse. Mann asks where's the monkey, and Mike honestly replies that he's the Monkee, but this gets Mann confused even more, and suggests that he needs a psychiatrist! Mike tries to explain that he's the kind of Monkee that sings, but Mann says, "Well, no wonder you're hoarse, your throat muscles are probably tired!" Mike says he has a horse, and Mann asks if he sings, too! Mike says no, he's just sick, and Mann says he could probably help him, as he's a veterinarian, you know! And they're off.

08-05Back at the pad, Dr. Mann starts examining Peter and Davy in the horse costume, and says he's very sick! Peter speaks up, saying he's not a horse, he's a Monkee! Mann doesn't believe him, and it gets worse when Davy speaks up, too! Mann decides the horse has delusions of singing as well as a split personality. Mike starts to bring Mann to the bedroom to examine the horse when there's a knock at the door. Mike figures it's fine, as Peter and Davy are in the costume, but Micky points out that the vet is there, and asks what if Babbitt starts asking questions. Micky's solution is for Peter and Davy to put the horse costume back on, and get Dr. Mann in the closet. Mike convinces him to go into the closet because there's a sick owl in there (Dr. Mann: "A sick owl! I could help him, I'm a veterinarian!"). Micky also tells Mike he's got a smoke bomb on the balcony, and if things get too hot to let him know, and he'll set it off. Mike, surprisingly, agrees with this.

08-06Mike opens the door, and it's Mrs. Purdy, who's baked a cake, and being a good neighbor, she thought she'd offer some to them. But when she starts looking for the rest of the boys, the horse comes out of the bedroom and starts eating the cake, causing her to squeal and faint, which causes the horse to retreat back to the bedroom. Mike calls Micky for help, and Micky throws the smoke bomb! Soon, the living room is full of smoke! Micky realizes he's made a mistake, and gets some water for Mrs. Purdy, who starts to revive, but then she sees Dr. Mann, who for some reason has the head for the horse costume on! This causes her to pass out again. But she revives again after he's taken the mask off, but when she finds out Mann is a vet, she passes out again! Mike opens the door for some fresh air, and Babbitt's there! Mike shoos him out of the door for a minute so Peter and Davy can get the costume back on the rest of the way, then lets him in again. But when Peter talks in the costume, Babbitt faints!

08-07Later, Davy's riding the horse on the beach when he sees Jonathan again, and talks to him, saying now Jonathan can take the horse back. Jonathan says he can't take him back, because he's Davy's horse now. He can't keep the horse (whose name is Jeremy), because his father says it costs too much to feed him, and that he wants to sell him. He talks Davy into talking to his father, because Davy "talks good," figuring Davy could change his dad's mind. So, the Monkees drive out to the farm in a jeep (why a jeep? Well, remember this was the first regular episode filmed, and the Monkeemobile probably wasn't finished yet) and meet Jonathan's father. He doesn't want the horse, as it's not a good work horse. When Davy asks if they could reimburse him for the original investment, it sounds like a good idea until they find out Jeremy cost $100! Mike then offers for them to work on the farm for a week, which should be worth the same money. The farmer offers to try them out for one day, beginning first thing in the morning.

08-08Bright and early the next morning, the farmer goes to wake up the Monkees, who were sleeping on bales of hay in the barn. He tells them what they need to do, and when they start talking amongst themselves, they get a few tasks mixed up (like milking the chickens and feeding the south 40).  They start putting hay into a truck when a rival farmer, Jenkins, arrives, saying he wouldn't hire them to slop his hogs. Peter wonders how he'll feed the hogs if they aren't here, and Micky says that's why they were taught the hog call. Micky convinces Peter to do it -- but when Peter starts to use a pitch pipe first, Micky moves him aside so he can do it instead. Micky goes completely nuts with his soo-ee calls, which cause squirrels to retreat into their nests, and it even gets Babbitt knocking at their door again! Suddenly, at the farm, chickens all come running in, which causes Peter to remarks that maybe he should try the chicken call (while the others chase after the chickens). Peter then says it's just as well the hogs didn't come... he forgot their food.

08-09Later, the Monkees are exhausted, but Farmer Fisher comes over with a bucket and tells them to milk the cows (Micky jokes, "That goes to show how far out in the country we are, the milk man doesn't even deliver here!"). Micky passes the bucket to Mike, who gives it to Davy, and then we start a romp to "Papa Gene's Blues." The guys do their usual messing about, and then finally, it's time for someone to milk a cow! This starts as the instrumental solo would begin (you hear Mike's "Play, magic fingers!"), then the music starts, and traditional bullfighting music begins, with Mike as a toreador! We get some bullfighting sequences (with some intercut shots of actual bullfighting), kind of, and then the music gets back, with Mike successfully having milked the cow! He hands the bucket of milk, which gets passed down the line to Peter, who dumps it on Farmer Fisher, who's had enough, and tells them to get out.

08-10Davy apologizes to Jonathan, and is trying to figure out what to do to help, when Jenkins drives up. Jenkins asks Jonathan what he'd want Jeremy for, anyway, as he's only good for eating. Davy insists it's not true, and that Jeremy is fine. Jenkins bets Davy that his horse, Charlemagne, could beat Jeremy in a race -- $100. Of course, the Monkees don't have $100, so Jenkins suggests they use one of their guitars as their part of the bet. Jonathan pleads with the Monkees, and the bet is on!

08-11Later, at the beach, Davy's in jockey gear for the race, and Micky's going a bit crazy with advice to Davy, so Mike chases him off. Then, as we hear the opening strains of "All the King's Horses," it's time for the race! Micky passes  out blowing the horn as the race begins, and we get some extra romping going on here, too. Finally, a gun is fired to start the race (after Peter and Mike each get a turn trying to blow the horn and passing out). Farmer Fisher and Jonathan are there for the race, cheering Jeremy on. Of course, as one would expect, Jeremy wins the race, which causes everyone to celebrate except for Jenkins.

08-12Jenkins pays off the bet, and Davy hands the money to Farmer Fisher, who thank the Monkees. He says they can feel free to visit them on the farm, but when Peter says they can help with the chores, Fisher says just a visit will be fine! Later, the Monkees are at the beach again when another kid shows up, asking Davy if he'd watch his pet for him! Davy says sure, but his bandmates are smarter than this, and get him up and away, leaving the kid with his camel behind.

We then get some extra romp, with the missing instrumental solo from "Papa Gene's Blues," accompanied by the Monkees riding minibikes down the beach, as well as their unicycles with training wheels down a path, and finally, studio shots of the Monkees performing the final chorus of the song. Obviously, this was shot much later, as the Monkees logo is on Micky's drums! And yes, it's the same performance seen in the episode "Monkees in a Ghost Town."

08-13So... this is one of my favorite episodes so far, because it has the Monkees doing something nice for someone, plus it has Mr. Babbitt, who wasn't featured nearly as often as I remembered him being! Of course, there is a huge continuity problem in the episode -- like why did the Monkees have to drive out to the farm, when Jonathan had Jeremy at the beach in front of the Monkees' pad? Plus, the appearance of Jerry Colona was a real treat, too!

Speaking of the guest stars, Jesslyn Fax, who played Mrs. Purdy, could previously be seen in Rear Window (as Miss Hearing Aid), The Music Man (an amusing tie-in to me - you may recall I suggested an episode of a Monkees animated series could be a sort of sequel to this), The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Man From UNCLE (two episodes), Batman ("The Contaiminated Cowl" as Bon Bon), The Girl from UNCLE, The Gnome-Mobile (she voiced the Bluejay), and The Wild Wild West. Jim Boles, who played Farmer Fisher, would later be seen in the episode "Hillbilly Honeymoon" as the preacher; prior to this, he was Tarac on Captain Video and His Video Rangers, and appeared in episodes of Tales of Tomorrow, Inner Sanctum, Car 54 Where Are You?, The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, The Man From UNCLE (three episodes), and later, Get Smart, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Night Gallery, Ark II, and other shows, and like Jesslyn Fax, he appeared in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken; other movie roles included Caretaker Franz in Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls and Uncle Everett in Nightmare Honeymoon. This episode was Kerry MacLane's first TV role, and he later guested on episodes of I Dream of Jeannie, Nanny and the Professor, Curiosity Shop, Kung Fu, Shazam!, and The Quest.

Jerry Colonna is no stranger to fans of old-time radio, having been a regular on Bob Hope's radio shows; he was also referenced a lot in old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons (and probably others, too), In the Disney short Make Mine Music, he was the narrator for "Casey at the Bat," was the Ringmaster for a TV movie of Pinocchio, and was the voice of the March Hare in Disney's Alice in Wonderland. In 1966, Colonna suffered a stroke that he never fully recovered from, and only returned to performing for a Bob Hope Christmas show in Vietnam, and then only briefly participating. He died in 1986.

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